Giant Transposons in Eukaryotes: Is Bigger Better? Academic Article uri icon


  • Transposable elements (TEs) are ubiquitous in both prokaryotes and eukaryotes, and the dynamic character of their interaction with host genomes brings about numerous evolutionary innovations and shapes genome structure and function in a multitude of ways. In traditional classification systems, TEs are often being depicted in simplistic ways, based primarily on the key enzymes required for transposition, such as transposases/recombinases and reverse transcriptases. Recent progress in whole-genome sequencing and long-read assembly, combined with expansion of the familiar range of model organisms, resulted in identification of unprecedentedly long transposable units spanning dozens or even hundreds of kilobases, initially in prokaryotic and more recently in eukaryotic systems. Here, we focus on such oversized eukaryotic TEs, including retrotransposons and DNA transposons, outline their complex and often combinatorial nature and closely intertwined relationship with viruses, and discuss their potential for participating in transfer of long stretches of DNA in eukaryotes.

publication date

  • March 1, 2019